J.R. Shridharan

Hyderabad facility shuttlers dominate the show

  • Vijayawada shuttlers lack speed and stamina
  • As many as 19 players are honing their skills

    VIJAYAWADA: The recently concluded Andhra Pradesh State inter-district under-19 badminton tournament at Ravulapalem will be remembered in the days to come for the battle of supremacy witnessed between two Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh (SAAP) academies - one based in Hyderabad and the other in Vijayawada.

    The three-day tournament brought to fore a string of intense encounters between Hyderabad shuttlers trained by national coach Pullela Gopi Chand and Vijayawada shuttlers guided by SAAP coach N. Rajesh.

    Hyderabad academy shuttlers Guru Sai Dutt, K. Tarun, Sikki Reddy, and J. Shruthi hogged the limelight grabbing three titles (boys and girls singles and boys doubles), leaving the girls doubles honours to SAAP Vijayawada Academy's Jyothi Swaroopa and Suswetha.

    Killer instinct

    Both technically and temperamentally, Hyderabad shuttlers were way ahead of their Vijayawada counterparts. The all-important speed, stamina and willingness to fight back when the chips were down were conspicuously lacking in Vijayawada shuttlers.

    "Most of the Vijayawada shuttlers bowed out in the semi-finals. Hyderabad shuttlers proved more superior in all aspects. I have identified the grey areas and I am planning implement the corrective measures in a phased manner," Mr. Rajesh said on Monday.

    Lack of killer instinct among city shuttlers was visible at Ravulaplem, when Vikranth and Anil lost the crucial decider third game in the doubles final after leading by 9-2. "It was disappointing to watch them commit a series of unforced errors," Rajesh said.

    SAAP gave the green signal to the establishment of a badminton academy at Vijayawada in the year 2000, as the city had a history of churning out many national and international shuttlers from the region, including Chetan Anand, Neelima Choudary, Prudhvi and Sunil Choudary.

    The best of the shuttlers from all over the State are selected for the academy and they are offered free education and opportunities to take part in State, university, national and international tournaments.

    As many as 19 shuttlers from Kadapa, Srikakulam, East and West Godavari, Khammam, Vizag, Guntur, Nalgonda and Karimnagar are honing their skills in the city academy by putting up in the hostel and pursuing their education.

    "For the past six years, Vijayawada academy shuttlers have won over 375 medals, comprising 161 gold, 88 silver and 125 bronze medals in various State, university and national tournaments. Shuttlers like T. Dinesh and B. Kiran Kumar represented India in German and Czech Open tourneys and are presently employed with the Indian Railways," Mr. Rajesh pointed out.

    However, as more and more talented players increasingly preferred to join SAAP's Gopi Chand academy and Laskhmi Mittal Academy, the city academy is losing its sheen. Mr. Rajesh, who took charge as coach after his senior colleague Bhaskar Babu joined Gopi Chand on a national assignment at Hyderabad, felt that promising players often left the academy to either pursue higher studies or to take up jobs. "We lost many players, but yet we are getting new talent at regular intervals as replacements," he noted.